The annual Lewisham Southwark College Student Awards, staged at Lewisham Way campus on 12th October, was a truly inspirational evening of celebration, entertainment and community spirit.
Welcoming the Award winners, their friends and families, staff and special guests, the evening highlighted the dedication, determination and hard work of students who have often overcome major challenges to get where they are today.
Principal Carole Kitching opened the event and introduced guest speaker Shakira Martin, President of the NUS and an LS College alumna who gave an inspiring talk about her time at the College and where it’s taken her. Following the Awards ceremony, guests enjoyed drinks and delicious canapes prepared and served by our Hospitality students, and enjoyed music performed by our talented Level 3 Performing Arts students.
During the evening, ‘Best Student of the Year’ Awards were presented to students in each subject area who have shown the best all round performance in their academic studies, enrichment activities and as active members of the College community. Those honoured in this category were:
Kofi Ocloo (Art & Design)
Karolina Cepeleva (Beauty)
Kyle Oneil Mohoney (Business and Finance)
Tia King (Catering and Hospitality)
Stephen Woods (Construction)
Elena Cebotari (Drama)
Mihaela Dicusara (English and Maths)
Gertrudes Correia Castro (ESOL Adult)
Abdo Daud (ESOL Young), Saman Sajjad (Fashion)
Julia Mills (Health and Social Care)
Georgette Khoury (Law)
Cyrus Allen (Media)
Michael Gough (Music)
Rejina Shrestha (Science)
Michal Waclawek (Sport)
Chloe Smith (Supported Learning)
Igor Railean (Technical Theatre)
Grissel Gutierrez (Travel and Tourism)
Kamiston Jogathilaraja (IT and Computing).
'Apprentice of the Year’ awards went to two apprentices who have gone the extra mile, impressing their employers with their professionalism, work ethic and eagerness to learn: Ryan Pinto (Level 2) and Kylean Campbell-Hall (Level 3).
The Principal gave four special awards to students who best reflect the values and ethos of LS College: Alesja Aleksandrova and Mihail Lukov (for Outstanding Contribution to the College) and Asata Selman-Jackson and Kyle Oneil Mohoney (for Outstanding Vocational Skills).
The ‘Employability Learner of the Year’ was awarded to Salma Rahman for showing the best future employment promise across the College, and the Jane Burnett Award for Supported Learning students (given in loving memory of a much-loved member of staff) went to Alex Henry. The ‘Make a Difference’ Award – awarded to a student who has made a genuine difference to people’s lives – was given to Aneesa Bhatti, while the Stephen Lawes Award for an Accountancy/Finance student who has shown exceptional dedication and commitment was awarded to Durga Thapaliya.
Carole Kitching said: “The Student Awards event is always the highlight of my year. Some of the award winners honoured tonight may become famous through their skills and achievements, and others will find real satisfaction in their chosen career. They have all shown what can be achieved through determination, perseverance and dedication.”
Sixteen organisations showed their support for the College by sponsoring the Awards, including Goldsmiths University of London, London South Bank University and FE Week. Three winners also walked away from the evening with work experience opportunities from their award sponsors.
Just two years ago, Lewisham Southwark College suffered the dubious honour of being the first FE and skills provider in the UK to receive two grade fours in a row from Ofsted.
But since hitting rock bottom, the college has welcomed a new leadership team, is undergoing a controversial merger with the Newcastle-based NCG group and, most surprisingly of all, has achieved a complete turnaround that it claims will rank it above the national average for learner outcomes and quality.
Our new reporter Pippa Allen-Kinross spoke to Gordon Gillespie (pictured), the college’s vice-principal of curriculum, learning and teaching, to find out how things have changed so dramatically in such a short space of time.
When Gordon Gillespie joined Lewisham Southwark College, it had already received its infamous second grade four. Its coffers were empty and it had been placed into administrative status by the FE commissioner’s office under a leadership which was, he claims, “indifferent”.
He was part of a new senior leadership team brought in by newly appointed principal Carole Kitching in June 2015, who went on a mission to “win back hearts and minds” to the floundering college.
“Carole is a very clear leader,” he says. “Her communication with staff is honest and regular, and she’s always open for a chat. She knows what she’s doing and all of those things add up to success.
“One of the first things we did was tell the staff they weren’t all terrible, they weren’t all grade four, and actually there was a lot of talent and skill in the college.
“We set to tackling long-standing issues of bad discipline, of a mentality that cared more about bums on seats than proper investment in making sure learners were put on the right courses.
“Within a year we went up to a grade three. We could see there was a change. The really big success was the academic year 2016/2017; all of a sudden the new quality assurance practices, the time invested in learners and making sure they were at the centre of what we do rather than the periphery, it started to show. The culture of the place, the ambience, the environment, everything was feeling a lot better.”
The college claims it has now secured a place in the upper tenth percentile of colleges in the UK on performance, and that it ranks above the national average in achievement across all age groups. According to Gordon, if the provider compared itself with last year’s national averages it would rank as one of the top 20 colleges in the UK, and in the top two in London. He is confident it would receive a grade two were another Ofsted inspection to beckon, and wants to become ‘outstanding’ in the next year.
However, Ofsted ratings haven’t been the only controversy faced by LSC.
A merger was announced with the Newcastle-based NCG group in March, a decision which Lewisham council at the time told FE Week was “disappointing”.
Despite this, Gordon is confident that the merger will bring only more good news, including plans to expand on their higher education and apprenticeship offering, and insists the independence of the college has not been compromised.
“It’s rather exciting, because you have something that’s large and powerful and strong and has good finances, and it’s there to support us rather than direct us. They have the second biggest apprenticeship arm in the UK, and having that experience on board is really helping us,” he enthuses.
“We wanted to remain independent, true to local people and the boroughs that we serve, working with local politicians and boroughs for local skills issues without inference. The simple fact of the matter is that if we had merged with another London college we would be a different organisation now.
“There are huge benefits strategically, sychologically for staff and managers and politically as well to be able to say that we have not changed. We are still LSC.”
And the college is nothing if not ambitious: its Southwark campus recently received a £43 million renovation, while Lewisham is hoping to have £56 million invested in the next four years, thanks in no small part to NCG’s robust bank balances.
“The thing we all feel most proud of is that it would have been easy for managers and staff in this college to really think the plug is about to be pulled out and the water is going to drip away,” he says.
“They stuck with it because they wanted learners to do better than they had done before, and because they were good, honest, hardworking people. As a result of that, and some half-decent leadership, we have turned the college around.
“We are seeing the proper value of not just staff but learners as well. We came from the depths of despair but now the future is looking very bright.”
Fashion student Tyana Hemming has won a prestigious award for young designers having presented her work on one of the world’s leading stages for fashion – London Fashion Week.
Tyana, who has just completed studying Level 3 Fashion, won the Award for Textiles in the Fashion Futures awards, organised by FAD (Fashion Awareness Direct) and sponsored by NatWest and George at Asda.
She was announced winner at a London Fashion Week show hosted by Fashion Scout at the Freemason’s Hall, Covent Garden, on 18 September. She wowed the panel of judges, which included professionals from ASOS, All Saints and George, with an innovative denim printed dress featuring mesh detailing – a design the jury described as ‘original and stylish’.
Tyana (who is 18) and the 20 other finalists were the youngest designers to showcase their designs at London Fashion Week. The finalists were shortlisted from over 70 London teenagers who developed designs inspired by the style leaders of Europe, past and present.
Speaking on the night, Tyana said: “This whole experience seems so surreal. It’s so exciting having this opportunity and I’m so grateful to be here.”
As part of the FAD Fashion Futures programme – which students from Lewisham Southwark College take part in every year – Tyana benefited from technical training and professional mentoring as well as gaining plenty of hands-on experience.
Three former students from Lewisham Southwark College performed in a cutting-edge dance production at Camden People’s Theatre on 30 September.
Students Elliot Minogue-Stone, Diogo Fernandes de Jesus and Tyrrell Foreshaw – under their stage persona of ‘the Hairy Heroines’ – appeared in ‘As We Like It’, a playful, provocative piece which explores the concept of gender. The production has been created in a collaborative process between the three dancers and choreographer Orley Quick.
Elliot, who is now studying for a BA (Hons) degree in Dance at the elite Royal Conservatoire in Antwerp, Belgium, says he was first inspired to take part in the show during his time at Lewisham Southwark College.
He explains: “The development of the show actually started towards the end of my final year, and when we finished, it seemed obvious to continue. Working with Orley Quick and the Hairy Heroines is fantastic and I wanted more of that!
“I hope our show is a bit challenging for people watching. The theme of gender is such a current topic. The piece is a joy to perform as it’s slightly different every time, and it would be lovely to get more opportunities to perform it.”
Looking forward to a future in dancing, choreography and producing, Elliot says that his best memories of Lewisham Southwark College are the staff. “The whole dance department is a gem at the College. The teachers have such a brilliant understanding of the industry and prepared me so well.”
‘As We Like It’ is part of a three-week ‘Come As You Are’ festival which explores gender non-conformity and LGBT+ life, with the aim of going beyond the clichés.
You probably haven’t given much thought to how you’ll start 2018. With a wealth of great adult courses beginning this January and February at the College, the New Year is a fantastic time to kickstart a new direction in your life by making the decision to study.
To find out more about what courses are starting in 2018 - when, where and how much - simply open our handy Professional Development and Short Course Listings below:
To apply or browse our courses on offer starting January 2018, see the links listed below:
Travel & Tourism
Cert in Introduction to Cabin Crew (Level 2) Programme
Business, Accounting and Law
AAT Certificate in Accounting (Level 2) Programme
Certificate in Skills for Professions in Business Administration and Finance (Level 2) Programme
Certificate in the Principles of Business and Administration (Level 3) Programme
Diploma in Professional Skills in Business Administration (Level 4) Programme
IT & Computing
Award in IT Application Specialist (Entry 3) Programme
Award in IT Application Specialist (Entry Level 3) Programme
Award in IT Application Specialist (Level 1) Programme
Award in IT Application Specialist (Level 2) Programme
Computer Maintenance Essentials (Level 2) (Full Cost) Programme
Introduction to Web Design (Level 1) (Full Cost) Programme
Health & Social Care
Introduction to Childminding and Child Development Programme
Introduction to Social Work Programme
Introduction to Nursing Studies Programme
Introduction to Understanding Mental Health Programme
Certificate in Counselling Skills (Level 2) Programme
Foundation Learning in Health and Childcare (Level 1) Programme
English Language Speaking and Pronunciation T2 Day (Full Cost)
English Language Speaking and Pronunciation T3 Day (Full Cost)
English Language Full-Time T2 (Full Cost)
English Language Full-Time T3 (Full Cost)
English Language Grammar & Skills T2 Day (Full Cost)
English Language Grammar & Skills T3 Day (Full Cost)
IELTS Preparation & Practice T2 Eve (W) (09/01) (Full Cost)
IELTS Preparation & Practice T2 Eve (L) (09/01) (Full Cost)
IELTS Preparation & Practice T2 Day (10/01) (Full Cost)
IELTS Preparation & Practice T3 Eve (W) (17/04) (Full Cost)
IELTS Preparation & Practice T3 Eve (L) (17/04) (Full Cost)
IELTS Preparation & Practice T3 Day (18/04) (Full Cost)
Whether you want to enter a completely new career in a field that’s always fascinated you, are looking for a promotion in your current job, or have been out of employment for a while and want to return to the workplace, studying for one of our vocational qualifications could give you the skills and knowledge you need to achieve your dreams.
We have a wide range of industry-focused courses available in business, IT and computing, which will enable you to gain skills that are vital in today’s workplace, or specialise in an area such as accountancy or website development. We also offer high quality adult courses in plumbing, electrical installation and bricklaying, which could open up new career opportunities for you within the burgeoning London construction industry.
Our adult courses are specifically designed to fit in around people’s busy lives, with many running in the evening, enabling you to work at the same time as investing in your future by studying. Depending on the course you choose, you will be able to study at our Lewisham or Southwark campuses, both of which are very easy to access by public transport. At both campuses you’ll find state-of-the-art facilities, an innovative learning environment and expert tutors, many of whom have a background in industry.
While financial considerations can be a barrier to returning to College as an adult, we are committed to helping make studying affordable for everyone. Our Student Support advisers are on-hand to help adults access any financial support for which they are eligible, including the Advanced Learner Loan, which is available for many of our courses. This non means-tested loan is designed to pay for all or part of the tuition fee, and repayments are only taken once your income is over around £21,000 per year – while if you progress on to Higher Education and achieve your degree, the loan is automatically written off.
The College also offers a Direct Debit option on all courses with fees of over £200, which enables students to pay in up to eight instalments, enabling you to spread the cost of the course.
Joining Lewisham Southwark College as an adult learner is an exciting step forward into your future, and 2018 is a great time to start that journey. The College recently merged with NCG, one of the largest providers of high quality education, training and work-based learning in the UK, which is enabling our students to benefit from the Group’s exceptional expertise, resources and reputation. To find out more about what we can offer, browse our adult courses.
- Southwark Business Awards launch 13th February 2018
- Alumni have the code for success 13th February 2018
- Inspirational former student in award-winning documentary 09th February 2018
- The power of mentoring 29th January 2018
- College announced as Southwark Business Awards Headline Partner 25th January 2018